The Kinky Green


As Planned

Posted in The Physical by Joy on June 17, 2009
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Today, I didn’t drag my ass out of bed for a morning run as planned.

I opted instead for extra minutes of fitful, interrupted sleep, if you can call it that. I greedily took too many.  Underestimated the time I would need to shower, primp, eat, walk the dog I’m sitting.

Numbers make no sense when I’m lying between the sheets. I know this. I don’t know why I think any morning will be different. Why I think I’ll suddenly comprehend, be able to work out a new morning schedule from the comfort of my bed.

I know I’ve cut my morning too close as soon as my feet hit the floor. I’m cursing myself, my laziness, before I take my first step.

Why does the hot water take so long to heat when I’m running late? Where’s my razor? Why do none of my clothes fit right or outfits work when I’m pressed for time?

I allow myself one change, then I’m out the door, leaving my delicious (and economical!) iced coffee on the kitchen counter and my umbrella in its stand. Going back for the umbrella, I leave the chilled caffeine behind in its insulated cup, where it will be waiting for me this afternoon, ice cubes long melted into oblivion. I managed to remember the red toile skirt with the lime green stain, but there’ll be no time to drop at the cleaner.

I feel the minutes slipping away as I march toward my canine charge. He’ll only have a short walk this morning, but I vow to take him for a lengthy spin after work. He’s hiding under the bed when I arrive, unresponsive to my pleading calls. I figure he takes his general disdain for interruped sleep and a.m. hours from his owner, that one.

When I finally urge my four-legged friend out of hiding, we’ve only got time for a quick loop. Pee, pee, sniff, and poop, and we’re making our way back. I leave him with pats and praise and accolades and 2/3 a cup of kibble before rushing myself to the bus stop.

The first of the many rain drops promised for the day kiss my forehead just as I arrive and spot the behemoth of public transport on the horizon. The umbrella, I recall too late, is still propped against the outside door, where I’d deposited it to ease the navigation of stairs with my furry, hyper, leash-bound ward, doing me as little good as the much-desired iced coffee, taunting me from my tiny kitchen.

And all I can think as the rain quickens and my eyelids begin drooping? I should’ve dragged my ass out of bed for a morning run as planned.

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Base Lines & Goals

Posted in The Physical by Joy on June 16, 2009
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I read that, to prevent injury while building distance, runners should only increase mileage by 10 percent per week, tops.

But newbies like me have to start somewhere, right?

I mean, last week, I ran a grand total of a little under 4 miles. The week before that? Exactly 3.1. The week before that? Um, that’d be none, Bob.

So, this week I’m tracking my mileage to set a weekly run base-line.

MapMyRun says we made it just about 3.5 miles on our Sunday venture, but there was a bit of walking in there and I had trouble determining our starting route, as it wasn’t on marked roads, so I’m going to knock that down to 3.2 for good measure. Monday morning found me doing 1.66 miles, round-trip, and I expect the rest of the week to be more of the same.

Taking into account that I’ll probably rest a day or two and that I’m definitely resting Saturday, that should put my base-line anywhere from 8-11.5 miles.

If I increase even the lower number by 10 percent weekly, I can be up to 15 miles per week in two months.

All this shoddy math, though, does me no good if I don’t know why I’m running.

Self, I have to ask, what are your goals here?

I’m not really in this to lose a ton of weight, although I wouldn’t mind such a side-effect. (Knowing the way running makes me want to eat, I’m not holding my breath.)

I definitely want to tone up in certain areas. I’m also fairly certain that I’ll never be in this for the glory or the speed. What I really want is to be healthy and active until the day I die. I mean, we see the effects of too much spaghetti and Rosanne and not enough moving your ass down the street at a healthy pace all around us. I don’t want to find myself dealing with a creaky, lethargic body with no real way to repair itself at the age of 50.

Oddly, I really didn’t set out to run with any goals. I just kind of went about it all Forrest Gump. (Minus the speed. And the distance. Okay, so not really like Forrest at all. Sue me.) I figured I’d run only part of that first 5k, and so my goal was to work up to running a 5k. But I did that, so I need something else.

So, here go some new goals:

1. Incorporate appropriate strength training into my weekly routine.
2. Work up to running 15 miles/week.
3. Work my standard pace up to a 10-minute mile. (Standard pace is one in which I can breathe and maintain conversation.)
4. Finish a 5k in 30 minutes or less.
5. Complete a 10k.

The Funniest Thing I’ve Ever Said (Or So I’m Told)

Posted in The Social by Joy on June 12, 2009
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I like children.
As long as I can discipline them.
And give them back.

On Breaking Up

Posted in The Social by Joy on June 8, 2009
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I’m on the phone with Ms. B for our semi-weekly philabuster-length chat, and she’s lamenting the ending of a friendship that’s seen coming-of-age and spanned more than a decade, when a revelation hits me.

Ms. B: I think I have to just resign myself to the fact that we aren’t friends. It just sucks, you know? I mean, we’ve been friends for so long, and she just acts like it doesn’t even matter.
Me: I know. I hate that you’re having to go through this… [Lightbulb] But, really, why should you put up with her treating you like this? We drop the men in our lives without a regret when they underperform in a relationship. I mean, yeah, it sucks, but, ultimately, we know getting them out of our lives when they become toxic is the right move. Why do we have so much trouble holding our friends to similar standards?
Ms. B: … You know? … You’re right.
Me: I had a therapist tell me once that sometimes friendships need to be ended. That it’s part of being an adult. At the time, I didn’t believe her, but now it’s starting to make sense.

Not long afterward, I found myself ending a friendship of my own.

Whereas Ms. B’s toxic friend had essentially been a non-participant in their relationship for a couple of years and seemed to drop out of it entirely without taking much note, the friend I let go was very aware.

And, yes, I felt bad for dismissing the friendship that had, beyond all my expectations, lasted through the passing of several years and cross-continental moves after having sprung, primarily, out of circumstances of loneliness and guilt and convenience.

Still, there is guilt. New guilt, fresh guilt. I know my summary dismissal caused pain. And I realize that the pain has long since hardened into anger. And if I’m to bear ill-will and angry thoughts being sent my way from afar from now until eternity, I understand and accept it as my burden.

I was surprised to find that the intense guilt was relatively short-lived. But less surprised to find that my life is happier and fuller now that I’m not regularly subjected to such vitriol and rage as had become the norm in that particular situation.

Komen

Posted in The Physical by Joy on June 7, 2009
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This weekend, I joined the 50-some-odd thousand folks participating in the Komen Race for the Cure.

And I actually ran the whole thing.

It was a short run — 5k, 3.1 miles — and I was slow as Christmas doing it, but, I have to admit, I’m all but bursting with pride about it.

It’s like this: two years ago, I was nearly 60 lbs heavier than I am today, a pack-a-day smoker, and an absolute non-athlete.

At that point in my life? You would’ve only found me running in circumstances of extreme duress. And, if I’m being honest, that’s been the case for pretty much my whole life, even in childhood. (But more about being a fat girl later… fun!)

So how’d I go from someone who couldn’t run to the bathroom during a commercial break without getting winded to someone who could complete a 5k?

In a nutshell, I dropped weight, adopted a relatively healthy diet, and began living a fairly active lifestyle. Oh, and I dropped the cigs. (Haven’t had so much as a puff in six months. Yay!)

What didn’t I do? Plan on becoming a runner.

But something odd happened while I was training for this year’s Avon Walk for Breast Cancer; I kept finding myself feeling like I wanted to run. This, as you might imagine, was an entirely alien urge to me.

I’d be out on a training walk, boogeying down the street at my top speed, iPod blaring away, and suddenly my internal dialogue would go something like this:

That’s odd.
What?
I feel the urge to run.
Are you crazy?
Ummmm… Maybe?
You can’t run! You’ll have a heart attack right here on the street!
I don’t know, I mean, I kind of feel like I could. Just for a little while. To that stop sign, maybe?
You don’t even know how to run. When’s the last time you ran anywhere?
Ummmm… field day in 7th grade? Wait, no! That PT test in JROTC… 9th grade.
What, a decade ago?!? Nice. And how far did you run?
Ummmm… Just out of Major’s line of vision…
Uuuh huuuh. And what did you do then?
Spent the rest of the time trying to catch my breath and walking with the rest of the fatties. Yay 19-minute miles!
Exactly. What makes you think you can run now? You can’t run.
You’re right. If I didn’t have a heart attack, I’d definitely look ridiculous. And I’d probably break my ankle stepping off a curb. Or trip and fall face-first onto the sidewalk, crack my skull, and spill blood and brain matter all over that pretty brickwork. No amount of cleaning would get all that out of the crevices.
See? Running is evil. It’s not for you. Just keep walking. You can handle walking.
Yeah, I can handle walking. Don’t know what I was thinking with all that dangerous running business…

And, so I didn’t do it. Aside from the occasional jog through intersections, I didn’t attempt to lift my legs any higher, put that bit of bounce in my stride.

But some friends from high school came to visit, and Denai changed my mind about running.

She’d recently taken it up, and she told me all I really needed to know. “If you’ve already been thinking about it, you’re ready to do it. Just go.”

I was skeptical at first, but I soon found that she was right.

I made my first mile on the treadmill within a week of my first attempt at running. (And, as an added bonus, I didn’t die!)

Buoyed by my unprecedented (by me!) success and at the behest of my running buddy, Mr. T, I registered for the Komen Race.

I got on Runners’ World and found a 5k training schedule for beginners.

I stuck to it religiously for two weeks. I worked up to running just under two street miles.

And then there was the wonky knee.

Everyone said rest. Everything I read said rest. So I rested.*

And the wonkiness persisted.

Come race day, I hadn’t run in weeks, and I had little hope of making it the full course.

Mr. T was there, though, checking in and encouraging me with every stride. And we made it through that finish line together in our first 5k.

So, what’s next? Well, Mr. T and I are planning to register for an upcoming 5k, and I’m working on outlining some goals for myself, beginning, generally, with:

– Adopt a regular training schedule, to include running and strength training.
– Focus on increasing stamina/endurance.
– Beat my 5k time: 36:39 (11:48/mile).

* By the way, that wonky knee? Didn’t get un-wonked until I started running again. Go figure.

Oh, How the Mighty Fall

Posted in The Occupational,The Social by Joy on June 6, 2009
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Last night, I was sipping wine at The Capitol. Shaking hands with former Senators clad in seersucker in the opulent LBJ Room.

Today, I find myself locked in the handicapped stall of our office bathroom, wearing nothing but a wife beater and a pair of Birks, frantically trying to dry my clothes without so much help as a hand dryer before my first meeting of the afternoon.

As I reflect on my predicament, I can’t help but chuckle to myself. Only me.

You see, it happened like this. After ignoring my rumbling tummy and forestalling the noontime meal as long as I felt possible, I was ready to consume my somewhat healthy lunch in a rapid fashion. Although it typically served my purposes well, eating at my desk held no appeal for me on this brilliant day. The rainclouds that had held clear skies at bay all week had finally dispersed, and I thought taking lunch on our underused balcony would be just the ticket to cheering up my otherwise gloomy day.

I stepped outside and selected my seat carefully, choosing one with optimal people-watching potential and just the right amount of sun exposure. Someone had thoughtfully tilted all the chairs around the tables upward, I noted, effectively keeping those pesky puddles from collecting in the seats during yesterday’s rain showers.

As I enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the hum and buzz of the streets below, I quickly snarfed up my single-serving soup and low-cal popcorn. I was ready to head back inside, had already made it to the door, when I remembered I’d bought myself a treat. I took the dark chocolate Raisinettes from my pocket and decided to settle into one of the oversized plastic arm chairs for a few moments of sheer indulgence mid work day.

I saw that the chair was dirty at the back of the seat, but I carefully perched on the edge and slowly lowered  my upper back toward the back of the chair, hoping to avoid sullying my light khaki skirt with an accumulation of outdoor grit and grime. No sooner had I leaned far enough to touch my back to the chair did I notice a cold sensation on my lower back.

Wet!

I shot back up immediately, but it was too late. The damage had been done. The back of my shirt and skirt were dripping wet. Just like that.

That collection of grit and grime I’d noticed had effectively tricked my eye into missing the puddle of water covering it, and I found myself in a dilemma. While I didn’t have a mirror handy, I was pretty sure my once light khaki skirt had morphed into that of the translucent variety.

This development posed major problems. The way back into the office from the balcony is through the lunch room. While I’m typically nothing akin to a prude, the thought of walking through a sea of my coworkers with my cute little undies fairly exposed held very little appeal.

After a good 10 minutes of pacing and fretting on the balcony, I remembered a side door and made my way in via an empty conference room. Checking to make sure the hall was clear, I dashed across to the ladies’ room and beelined for the large stall at the far end.

My watch told me I had 45 minutes before my next meeting, and the lack of hand dryers told me I’d have to employ some good old fashioned ingenuity if I was going to be able to show up for it.

And that is why I could be found locked in the handicapped stall of our office bathroom, wearing nothing but a wife beater and a pair of Birks, frantically waving my skirt through the air in a post-lunch attempt to dry my clothes and keep the office mortification at bay.

For Naught

Posted in The Social by Joy on June 5, 2009
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I hold the blushing bride’s veil, tiara, feather boa, and I watch as a hulking security guard, all-important earpiece in place, lifts her up onto the bar. It’s KT’s last night out with the girls. Her last real chance for public and sanctioned debauchery with her given last name.

My two feet are planted firmly on the ground, and I’m focused entirely on her. This outing is my doing, and if something bad should happen, it will all be my fault. So I concentrate on sending all my good thoughts her way…

Those platform wedges are perfectly safe for bar-top dancing. Even if they weren’t, those beefy bartenders or security dudes would stop her fall if she teetered. And the crowd? Their hands are up, they’d just pass her along to safety if she made it down any further. She’s good. Nothing’s going to go wrong.. As long as I don’t take my eyes off of her for so much as a second.

The place is packed with a crowd that must supersede any and all fire marshal sanctions, and I’m touching and being touched by no less than five strangers in potentially intimate ways just by standing there. The music is infectious, so I’m dancing by myself, eyes still glued to the Soon-to-be-Former-Ms.-M— groovin’ and shakin’ her thang in the spotlight of the makeshift stage.

I’m not entirely surprised when I feel a presence step into place behind me and take up my rhythm. We manage to exchange general info over my shoulder, but I’m put off at the start by the approach from behind. Burned by several too many wannabe-hotties with halfsies on the dance floor, I’m wary of the potential for the salsa rhythms to disintegrate into your run-of-the-mill, Rumors-flavored grinding. And, really? I’m getting too old for that grope-the-stranger-on-the-dance-floor game.

So when I see Ms. M— being helped down from her dance altar, I turn to face my partner for the first time and am pleasantly surprised; he’s not so hard on the eyes. I try to tell him over the pulsing beats that my friend needs me. I have to go. Before I make it away, he’s got my name. My number.

He texts the next day. Coffee? Why not? We arrange to meet later in the week. As the day approaches, I try to remember what my unexpected dance partner looked like and can only muster the vaguest recollection. I’m uncertain of even that and resolve to arrive at our destination early and engross myself in some handy reading material as I wait. Take the identification pressure off of myself. I’ll know he’s him when he addresses me. See? Easy.

But I’m sitting there, engrossed in my reading, when I notice, in my periphery, a guy sit down expectantly on the unoccupied bench next to mine. Certainly that can’t be him. Certainly he didn’t forget what I looked like, too, did he?

When I brave a sideways glance, I catch him looking my way and immediately drop my eyes to the magazine on my lap. Kink? he asks, tentatively.

I nod assent, gather my things, and smile as we set out for our destination.

All that worry about not recognizing my date and looking foolish? For naught, it seems.

A Lot Can Happen in Four Years

Posted in The Social by Joy on June 3, 2009
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“Looks like it’s been about four years since  you graduated. Time flies, doesn’t it?”
Oh, indeed.

“Do you have any additional degrees from Alma Mater?”
No.

“Do you have any degrees from any other colleges or universities?”
No.

“Do you have any awards or certifications you would like to have included with your information?”
No.

“A lot can happen in four years. Do you have a spouse or any children you’d like listed?”
No. No. No.

Susan was polite and helpful. She made friendly chitchat while gathering the information she needed in an efficient manner. She was everything you could want from a call center operator and, perhaps, more.

But when I bid Susan adieu and ended the call, I felt deflated. Unaccomplished. Like a failure.

Her scripted questions might as well have been jeers coming from a heckler with a megaphone.

“That Bachelor of Arts is a joke!”
“You never went to grad school! Loser!”
“You haven’t even excelled professionally!”
“Family? You’ll never have one!”

In truth, I’m proud of what I’ve done in my life. And I don’t regret not having spent more time in school or gaining professional recognition and credentials; I know either venture would find me floundering, as I still don’t have a clue about what I want to do when I grow up. And becoming a wife and mother doesn’t hold the same appeal for me as it seems to for the general female population.

But while Susan was presenting her battery of questions, I was picturing my sparse, unimpressive entry in the Alma Mater’s Alumni publication. Next to those overachieving peers with masters and juris doctorates and hubbies and babies, and confined by those limited questions, what do I have to show for my time after school?

One truth is that my entry in the publication matters very little. Since I’m wholly uninterested in dropping a Benjamin on the “Collector’s Edition” of the stupid thing, I probably won’t even see a copy. Much less will it affect my life in any way.

But the real truth is that I’m almost entirely happy with the life I’m leading. Of course there are things I want to change, but I don’t regret the choices I’ve made that brought me to where I am today, even if those choices don’t make for a lengthy entry in the alumni publication Susan’s working so diligently to flesh out.

On Fresh Starts

Posted in The Intellectual,The Occupational,The Social by Joy on June 1, 2009
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I find myself here, in this particular bit of cyberspace, after having run, tail-tucked, from one of the several other venues I’ve made my online home and subsequently abandoned over the years. I hope that was the last time I feel the need to duck out the back door for this reason or that.

This time, I want to do it right.